The first burst of action in Lommel, Belgium, has concluded with the EMX250 and EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing races, that saw Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing’s Thibault Benistant make a return to the top of the box in the EMX250 class, as he looked for every advantage over his championship rival Mattia Guadagnini of Husqvarna Maddii Racing Junior.
Meanwhile in the EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing category, it was Guillem Farres of RFME GASGAS MX Junior Team, who took his very first overall victory of the season, with a fifth and a race win!
The European Championship riders were the first to test out the changes made to the circuit here in Lommel, to kick off this weekend’s races. Today’s races, along with the next two rounds coming up, are vital for the EMX pilots as they give their final push for top championship positions, and in the case of Benistant and Guadagnini, fight it out for the title.
As the gate dropped for the opening race of the day, all eyes were on the championship rivals Thibault Benistant and Mattia Guadagnini of Husqvarna Maddii Racing Junior, as Benistant grabbed the holeshot and led Marcel Conijn, Jorgen-Matthias Talviku and Gianluca Facchetti of Hutten Metaal Yamaha Racing.
Though Facchetti didn’t hold on to the position, as he crashed out and re-joined the race way down the order and eventually did not finish the opening heat.
Kay De Wolf of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing had a good jump out of the gate, but a couple of corners later dropped it and as a result was way down the order in the beginning of the race.
Benistant, Conijn and Talviku led the opening laps, as Guadagnini fought his way up to fifth and set his sights on Tim Edberg who was just ahead. A few laps later and Edberg crashed out of fourth, which allowed Guadagnini and Hakon Fredriksen of Yamaha SM Action MC Migliori J1 Racing through.
Talviku then took second from Conijn, with Guadagnini doing the same not too long after, to move into the top three. Benistant then led the race by 6.560 seconds.
Knowing how vital every point is at this stage in the championship, Guadagnini continued to push forward as he squeezed past Talviku to take second.
Benistant then responded by setting the fastest lap of the race, a 2:06.072 as he extended his lead to 10.625 seconds. Though Guadagnini wasn’t going to give in easy, as he set his personal best lap of the race towards the end, taking three seconds out of the race leader.
The Italian then worked away at the gap, to shrink it even further, but with just 2 laps to go, made a mistake which was the deciding moment of the race. Eventually, Benistant went on to win the opening race, with Guadagnini finishing second and Fredriksen third.
In the second EMX250 race it was Guadagnini who grabbed the holeshot from Talviku and Benistant. He didn’t hold on to the lead for long, as a small mistake cost him valuable positions and saw him drop down to 6th.
Talviku then led the race, with Benistant and Oriol Oliver second and third. Guadagnini though was making quick moves as he passed two riders in a single lap to get into 4th.
On lap 3, Benistant then took the lead from Talviku, with Guadagnini looking to do the same as he set the fastest lap of the race, to bring the gap down to 4 seconds between himself and the pair in front of him. Meanwhile De Wolf was edging closer to Oliver for fourth place.
Guadagnini then caught and passed Talviku, with the Estonian then losing two spots to De Wolf and Oliver. Back at the front though, Benistant had an impressive 14.617 second lead as 9 minutes plus 2 laps remained.
Guadagnini and De Wolf then battled amongst themselves, with the pair coming together at one point, with the factory Husqvarna rider going through on the Italian to steal 2nd place. And he didn’t hold on to it for long, as he crashed a couple of corners after the finish jump, which allowed Guadagnini back into P2.
With 3 laps to go, Benistant was already 32 seconds ahead, so the battle heated up behind him as De Wolf caught onto the rear wheel of Guadagnini once again. In the end, it was Benistant who was victorious, with Guadagnini holding on to second and De Wolf finishing third.
In terms of the podium, Benistant had the perfect day, taking two race wins as well as the overall victory, along with the red plate as he continues to lead the championship by 24 points over Guadagnini, who was second overall and Fredriksen getting his turn on the podium once again, as he took to the third step of the podium.
Thibault Benistant: “I’m really happy to win both races, it was my goal for today. I don’t think of the championship or winning, I took it race by race and give my best every time. I’m really happy to be back on top of the box. I feel really good for the last round, I have the speed and feeling, and everything is here so we will do the same”.
Mattia Guadagnini: “It was not so good. I had good speed but the first race I had a bad start and made my way to the front, then I was closing down the gap and I made a mistake, so I took second. In the second race, I had a great start and took the holeshot and then made a little mistake and tried to start as soon as possible and made my way to second position again and I was a little bit faster. Then I had a little problem with the goggles, and I had another crash. I tried my best and finished with two place races, but it was not what I was hoping for today”.
Hakon Fredriksen: “The day started pretty good. I had a decent start in the first race, I was like top ten and then worked my way to third and finished there. Then in the second race I got a bad start and crashed on the first lap, so I was dead last and then worked my way up to fourth place and I’m happy with that, just going to charge for the next one and hope for a win”.
The opening race of the EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing category saw Haakon Osterhagen of Creymert Racing who grab the holeshot, as he led RFME GasGas MX Junior Team’s David Braceras and Radek Vetrovsky from JD Gunnex KTM Racing Team.
It didn’t take long for Braceras to take the lead, as he passed Osterhagen on the opening lap. Meanwhile the championship leader, Andrea Bonacorsi of Fantic Racing was down in 20th.
Vetrovsky then had a big moment as he crashed out of third place. He did not re-join the race. Osterhagen then also crashed out, as he dropped from P2 to P10.
Braceras then held a nice 4 second gap to Florian Miot of KTM DIGA Junior Racing, with Rasmus Pedersen of W-Z Racing just behind in third at the time. Miot then started to close in on the race leader, as he brought the gap down to 1.5 seconds.
The pair needed to be careful as W-Z Racing’s Max Palsson made his way up into third and was all over the back of the two, which meant that there was no room for error. And Palsson continued to apply the pressure for a few laps until he managed to squeeze past Miot for P2.
The battle for second gave Braceras a big more breathing room as he was able to get his head down and focus. Towards the end of the race he had a 6.711 second lead to Miot, who was able to pass Palsson back and that’s how the top 3 remained until the chequered flag dropped.
The start of the second race was a repeat of the first one as Osterhagen claimed another holeshot. He led Scott Smulders of No Fear/Jumbo BT Racing Team, Farres and Cas Valk of TBS Conversions Racing Team who got a fantastic start.
Osterhagen immediately pulled a 4.7 second lead to the group, while race one winner, Braceras, was down in 6thon the opening lap. Bonacorsi got a much better start in the second heat as he was already up in 3rd place within the first few laps, as he passed Smulders and Valk.
Farres then took the lead from Osterhagen, as he set his best lap of the race, a 2:11.321, as Osterhagen made a small mistake but managed to keep it on two wheels. Bonacorsi though needed to work on the large gap between him and the top 2.
Further down the order, Braceras was coming under pressure from Palsson for P4, as Farres extended his lead to 9.539 seconds with 10 minutes plus 2 laps on the clock.
And Palsson was charging, as he passed Braceras, though the Spaniard responded immediately. The two then went at it for a little while longer, before Palsson was able to make the pass stick.
Miot then went after Braceras, though the GasGas rider was able to get back around the Frenchman a few laps later towards the end of the race. Meanwhile, Palsson continued his journey forward as he passed Bonacorsi for third place, which also got him on the podium.
In the end though it was Farres who took his first race win of the year, while Osterhagen crossed the line in second and Palsson finishing third.
The EMX125 Presented by FMF Racing saw Guillem Farres take his first overall win, while his teammate David Braceras finished second and Max Palsson third. In terms of the championship, Andrea Bonacorsi continues to lead the series with a steady 44-point advantage over Braceras, while Meico Vettik is a further 12 points down in third.
Guillem Farres: “Right now I still can’t believe it, but we did it, in first race I struggled a little bit because I didn’t get the start that I wanted and after I fought with Hakon. In the second race I was able to take a better start and I was second, I managed to pass Hakon, I went for the first position and I was first for all the whole race. I’m really happy about that.
I’m feeling that I’m being more and more consistent race by race and also more confident is strange that Spanish guys are together on the podium here in Lommel”.
David Braceras: “I’m really happy. In the first race I was able to win. I took a good start and after I took the lead and I went until the end. In the second race I didn’t start really good because I was ninth or something like that then I pushed really hard in the first laps to re-group and be back in the first group and I was able to go fourth. After that I had a little bit of arm pump and I got passed by two riders and I was sixth. At the end I managed to be fifth and take the second place in the overall. I’m really happy for me, for the boys and for the team because we worked really hard to be on the top and now is the time”.
Max Palsson: “First race I did not get a good start and I was far away from the front and in addition I did also one mistake and I crashed. In the second race I messed up in the first corner and I had to re-group again, in the last lap I was able to pass David and get the 3rd place in the overall”.
Andrea Bonacorsi: “Yeah today it was a hard day for me but I still think about the championship and now I’m forty-four points in front so in the next races I want to be super focused and I want to win and be back on the podium. Now I’m ready for the next round”.